Paper, Ink, Silicon and Paste…
Looking at the graphic language of protest and change.

July 28, 2011 at 12:05pm
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Giving free rein to your emotions is an honest way to live.

— Jenny Holzer, Truisms 1977-Current

July 25, 2011 at 7:46am
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When John Heartfield and I invented photomontage in my South End studio at 5’oclock on a May morning in 1916, neither of us had any inkling of its great possibilities, nor of the thorny yet successful road it was to take. As so often happens in life, we had stumbled across a vein of gold without knowing it.

— George Grosz

July 24, 2011 at 9:11pm
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Nice site…perhaps you could post a good primer bibliography for folks who want to read more about the history of graphic agitation? Thanks for getting this up!

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Borders=Repression, mai 1968 Poster
And a modern use of the design in 2008:

Paris, 18 october 2008–photographed by Farfahinne

Borders=Repression, mai 1968 Poster

And a modern use of the design in 2008:

National demonstration of immigrants without passports in France

Paris, 18 october 2008–photographed by Farfahinne

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mai 1968

May 1968. The world was set to be lit like a powderkeg. In Paris, France, students, workers, artists and unionists all came together in a show of solidarity not seen since [in my opinion, the 1999 WB/IMF protests in Seattle only came close] to protest the social and economic policies of the de Gaulle government. 

Starting with events in March at Paris X Nanterre (the university saw the first student “occupation”, with 150 students taking over an administration building), Mai ‘68 was to become a groundbreaking social experiment–a period of firsts.

The city saw the largest general strike in history (11 million workers, two weeks) and the first wildcat strike in history 1. People revolted, on a widespread scale, against “modern consumer and technical society and embraced left-wing positions that were critical of authoritarianism and Western capitalism.” 2The events unfolding were viewed by many as an opportune moment to “shake up old society and traditional morality”, especially in regards to the education system and labor…

Obviously, these are very exciting events to read and learn about, especially for someone like me, and knowing the history of Mai ‘68 is essential for anyone interested in protest movements, labor history, Paris itself and [most importantly for this blog] the point at which artistic endeavors intersect with socio-political interests and needs.

This is where it all began for me. Vaughn Oliver, Neville Brody and post-war Swiss Design made me want to become a graphic designer but the posters and graffiti of 1968 Paris helped me to realize the amazing power visual art could wield in the struggle against power and corruption (very broad terms, I know). They are, in fact, part of the inspiration for doing this weblog**. I intend to write much more on the subject, so please check back every so often to check it out. 

I will be collecting and posting the highest quality images of the ‘68 posters (I have always been annoyed that any online collection of these images so varies in resolution and quality) and digitizing a few out-of-print books on the subject as well(we’ll see how quickly that happens!).

If you’d like to see something in particular or want to help out and contribute, feel free to note it in the comments. 

…oh, and thanks for stopping by,


Mind you, the radicalization of the rank & file was beginning this point. They [workers] were becoming increasingly anti-authoritarian and revolted against the large national trade federations (the Parti Communiste Français–PCF–and the leftist Confédération Générale du Travail) that were operating increasingly in lock-step with the government, culminating in a series of deceptions that broke the strike and assured de Gualle’s return to power. 

De Gaulle, Televised speech of 7 June 1968. Quoted in René Viénet (1968) Enragés et situationnistes dans le mouvement des occupations (Paris: Gallimard)

**Obviously, the art spawned by and from these events will not be the only work I focus on in this blog…

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Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!

— Anonymous Graffiti, Paris 1968